samedi 30 août 2014

Day with the tractor

This morning I took the tractor to some of my land in the woods at Gabach. A couple of big beeches fell there 18 months or more ago and though I logged one, the other has been waiting for me. After cutting, splitting and stacking 60% of it, I headed deeper into the woods to collect some wood I split and stacked a long time ago. Five trips with the tractor and it's safely stacked nearer the road and under cover.

In the afternoon, it was more field topping at first with the scythe, then with the topper and tractor in the field below the woodshed. It's a steep field and I cut about half of the top and bottom tiers...the rest is too steep for the tractor or at least too scary for me on the tractor!

Tonight I'm packing for a two day trip to Mont Rouch, Pic Galena, Ventolau, Montareino and Cap de Ruhos.

jeudi 28 août 2014

Took Susie, Jasper, Ruby and Jordan back to the airport yesterday, I have 5 days here alone. Hope to top all the fields before I leave and get a two day trip into the mountains on the Spanish side of the chain, behind Mont Rouch.

 First field topped, took most of the day and it was a scorcher today.

Another mushroom hunt this evening and found a new area rich in mushrooms not too far away. A wide selection on offer, including some trumpet chanterelles (first time I've found these) and some to avoid!

False death cap

 Slimy beech cap

View of Quélébu from the other side of the valley

mardi 26 août 2014

Tour de Mont Valier

Before Susie and the kids arrived there was just time to finish the cupboards in Jasper and Ruby's bedrooms, build a ski rack and make a knife and spice rack in the kitchen. 

Monday was Philippe and Sophie's wedding and in the evening there was a soirée at Gouteto, interrupted by a massive thunderstorm.

On Wednesday I picked up Susie, Jasper, Ruby and Jordan. An afternoon mushroom hunt took us to Aliot and because of the number of fallen trees blocking the paths we ended up on a rather 'longer then planned' trudge through the forest. Good training for the up coming trek in the mountains and full basket of mushrooms to show for our efforts - horn of plenty, chanterelle, hedgehog of the woods.

 Snack break

The end of the path!

Coral fungus

Chicken of the woods

Saturday we headed off for our three day tour of Mont Valier. Our packs were heavy with tents, sleeping bags and three days of food. Ruby was a bit under the weather with a cold but everyone was determined.

The climb of 3500ft to the lakes at Milouga is steep and unrelenting and an emergency stop for hot chocolate at the Cabin d'Aouen was called for. The clouds stayed just above us as we climbed higher with views to distant peaks.

Finally we reached Milouga and after a short search found a fantastic camping place. The clouds cleared to reveal Mont Valier above us.

At night the sky cleared and the temperature dropped to zero, everyone survived but some were warmer than others!

Jasper, Susie and I were up early and ready to go - not so Ruby and Jordan. Eventually, many hours later (11.00), we started our climb towards the Col de Pecouch 2478m.

Ruby was finding things especially tough and I found myself carrying two packs on the ascent.

Susie crossing the vast granite wilderness above Milouga

 Mont Valier and Valieret

Finally after lunch we reached the Col. I ferried the rucksacks down the exposed first section from the col then we continued down to the Estanous Refuge.

On the Col

 At the Estanous Refuge and a well earned cold drink

We continued down to the Etang Rond for a second night under canvas. The Mosquitos were relentous so an early night for everyone. The temperatures were much warmer and everyone was warm enough.

In the morning, we had to decide weather to continue to the Etang Long and over the Col de Barlonguere or descend via the Riberot. Another late start determined our fate and with the hot weather it was a wise choice as Jasper suffered with little too much of the sun.

 Ruby sets out from our camp at the Etang Rond

We got back at 4.00pm after several dips in the tempting (but cold) waters. It's always good to descend knowing you can eat the remaining of the food you are carrying, without worry that it might be needed later.

Back at the house we all relaxed, basking in the hot evening and watching the falling stars

Today it was a lazy day all round. Susie was sunbathing and baking, the kids playing badminton and I scythed the saplings out the field below the wood shed then went on a mushroom hunt, collecting a basket of horn of plenty. They'll be dried, to join our haul from earlier in the week, then jarred up for casseroles in the winter.

vendredi 15 août 2014


Back in the UK for 2 days for an important work meeting. Snatched a day on Dartmoor with Jasper and his friend Jordan who both come out to France in a couple of days with Susie and Ruby.

 Jasper and Jordan chimping around

View from Great Mis Tor

mardi 12 août 2014

Les Landes

Just back from a few days camping on the Atlantic coast in Les Landes, a vast flat department of pine forest. 

Found a lovely camp site under the trees, quiet and well maintained (about 95% of the campers were Dutch). The beach was a few minutes walk away. There's a continuous fine sand beach about 150 miles long so no difficulty finding a place! To the West there's nothing until America so the waves were big and surfing popular.

On Monday we hired bikes and explored down coast on excellent cycle paths through the forest. Another (better) beach further south and the freshwater lake at Leon.

 A ridiculous selfie taken as we cycled along

dimanche 10 août 2014

After the storm a return to summer weather. Hopefully high pressure over the Azores will return at the end of the week and we'll have 'normal' weather.

The market in Saint Girons was heaving but Susie managed to get some plants and herbs at very reasonable prices.

It was hot in the afternoon, so I fixed the solar power in the barn and finished off the towel shelves in the bathroom...just my ski-rack to build! Visits in the evening to Gilbert and Nicole, John and Sandrine.

A short trip to the Atlantic coast in Les Landes next.

vendredi 8 août 2014

Yesterday Susie sanded and re-varnished the table whilst I made new tree trunk seats for the terrace.

A welcome return to normal summer temperatures today (32 degrees). The Dutch threesome we met in the cabane de l' Etang Hillete, came to visit in the morning, a pleasant surprise and good company. In the afternoon Susie set to work on her herb garden whilst I cleared out the workshop. A strong winds heralded the arrival of an electrical storm at nightfall - despite the weather warnings it didn't last long.

lundi 4 août 2014

Etang Hillette

On Saturday we went to Foix to visit the African Festival going on there. We bumped into Donna, Sam, Helen, Cherie and Michael and ended up having an African meal together. This was followed by an amazing band from the Ivory Coast with drumming, dance and a Kora player. During the concert I spotted Ben in the audience who I haven't seen for years (he now lives in Andulcia) who by chance was in Foix for a few days.

On Sunday afternoon we headed into the Cirque de Cagateille and climbed up to the Etang Hillette for a overnight camp. In fact there was no-one in the cabin when we arrived so we opted to sleep there. Later we were joined by three Dutch walkers - a dance teacher, a double bass player and a mime artist. Lots to talk about.

Above the cirque

Pyrenees Lily

During the night we were kept awake by dormice, who relentlessly (and rather boisterously) tried to get at our food - they eventually managed to get into our tupperware sandwich box!

In the morning we continued our walk to the Etang Alet and then the long descent back to the car, alas it was a pea-souper all day.

Etang Hillette

Evening views from the Etang Hillete

Looking past a huge erratic to the cabin and Etang Hillette below

In the morning on the way to tthe Etang Alet the clouds part briefly

A slow worm Susie found on the descent

Yesterday we went on a mushroom hunt in the afternoon and got quite a haul of chanterelles and hedgehog of the woods, a single cep, a blusher, a puff ball and meaty russula. A brief stop in La Trappe to see the new windows in the project I'm running there and tea with Gilbert and Nicole.

Back home l'Apero with Sandrine, Alain and a visit from Georges and Lucette.

vendredi 1 août 2014

A fantastic relaxed evening last night at John and Sandrine's with friends old and new. 

Today after a lazy start we headed on a circuit including Cominac where we had lunch. Saw my first ever Red Backed Shrike. Back home just before the thunderstorm.